This group will be a warm, friendly and open support group for parents whose toddler or older child has received a diagnosis of mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder or other related developmental and pragmatic based communication challenges. Discussions will be centered around the DIR/Floortime framework, a comprehensive evidenced based social-emotional Developmental approach. Discussions will consistently include how to slow down, understand, enter and engage your child's world (i.e., his/her natural intent or affect) in order to meaningfully encourage and deepen back and forth spontaneous gestural and verbal reciprocity; simple to complex ideation (i.e., functional to symbolic play) and simple utterances, phrases to full pragmatic expressive language as your child begins to move up the Developmental ladder.
One of the primary motivating factors in forming this support group was based upon a consistent and not unoften tremendously voiced outrage by many families from more than thirty countries over 20 years of my practice as a Developmental special educator with respect to not being presented with an alternative evidenced-based treatment intervention option other than a behavioral based methodology (ABA) which primarily targets changing the child's surface behaviors, his/her so-called, "inappropriate or non-compliant behaviors" but not sufficiently, if at all, the fundamental and core affective social-emotional aspects of developing and maintaining spontaneous initiation, complex back and forth reciprocal engagement, thinking and communicating and crucially the child's autonomic nervous system regulation (e.g., fight, flight freeze responses) which guides all interactive behaviors. This includes each child's highly unique set of sensory-affect-modulation processing challenges. For example, over-responsive, under-responsive or mixed responsivities across one or more sensory domains, such as visual-facial, tactile-gestural, auditory-prosodic; proprioceptive/movement, etc.
However, first and foremost the primary function of this group will be not just to present and inform about Developmental affect neuroscience and how it dramatically differs from applied behavioral analysis (ABA) but much more importantly to give center stage with open, attentive and empathic listening and encourage comfortably and safely many voiced and unvoiced fears, anxieties and concerns by families irrespective of treatment methodology used.
DIR/Floortime is a biological-social-psychological framework for understanding how children in their processing of relationship interactions with primary caregivers develop in the first three years of life and how this begins to set the necessary foundations for all functional emotional and developmental growth throughout the lifespan. It is a developmental neuroscientific evidenced based treatment approach for infants, toddlers and older children diagnosed with ASD and related social-pragmatic communication challenges. It is based upon the six primary core functional-emotional developmental capacities or milestones that directly involve child/primary caregiver social emotional relating/engaging, thinking and communicating and that are typically mastered by each child during the first three years of life. This includes:
1) Self-Regulation and Taking Interest in the World. 2) Engagement and Relating (Falling in Love). 3) Purposeful Two-Way Communication. 4) Complex Communication and Problem Solving. 5) Using Symbols and Creating Emotional Ideas. 6) Logical Thinking and Building Bridges Between Ideas.
DIR/Floortime (Developmental Individual processing Relationship differences) was founded in the early 1980’s by the late Stanley Greenspan, M.D. (Child Psychiatrist and former director NIMH Mental Health Study Center and the Clinical Infant Development Program; clinical professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Science and Pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School and Chairman, of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders) and Serena Wider, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychologist) in collaboration with Terry Berry Brazelton (Pediatrician), Julius Richmond, M.D. (Surgeon General), Selma Fraiberg (Psychiatrist) and others at the Clinical Infant Development Program at the National Institute of Mental Health.